Updated, 02/17/2019 (scroll to the bottom)
Matt Duhamel started his broadcasting career in West Yellowstone, MT at KYWS AM radio as an afternoon disc jockey in 1995.
After only a few months, he relocated to Idaho Falls, ID where he was hired with Z103, the number one radio station at the time in Southeast Idaho. Matt enjoyed working as their evening disc jockey, live remote radio host, and production coordinator through the mid to late 90’s.
In 1999, Matt took his passion for weather to KIDK where he was employed as their morning weather anchor alongside news reporter, Tammi Doty. With their unique and fresh style, Matt and Tammi took the morning show ratings from number three to number one in just a few months. After a short stint in Eugene, OR at KVAL, KIDK requested Matt Duhamel back on their team as the evening weather anchor.
Wanting to move into the Salt Lake City, UT news market, Matt took a chance and applied for a traffic reporter/weather fill-in position with KUTV. He got the job and for 6 months, Matt reported the traffic live from the 2News helicopter. His position was short lived due to layoffs and cutbacks.
Struggling with media’s constant layoffs and uncertainties, Matt was hired as a part-time radio disc jockey for Bonneville’s, Star 102.7 in Salt Lake City. This was also short lived due to more layoffs within the company. He received a call from Mike Nelson, the station’s Program Director letting him know that Bonneville has decided to simulcast their AM news station on their FM frequency.
Frustrated, Matt decided to start his own TV show project, a late (very late, 2am!) night talk show that was featured on Utah’s UPN affiliate. Just as the new TV show gained momentum, everything came crashing down for Matt…
In 2006, Matt was arrested for child and teen modeling websites that contained sexually explicit material. Though non-nude in nature, according to the Federal Court, the photos contained inappropriate clothing and posing for the age of the models. Matt was officially charged with a computer related sex offense in 2007 and was incarcerated through January, 2012.
With his release from a federal half-way house during the spring of 2012, Matt knew that his chances of returning to broadcast news would be extremely difficult. He had applied for several radio and television stations in 2012 and 2013, but with a sex offense on his record, no broadcast employer was interested. Struggling to find work of any kind, Matt finally found a warehouse job with The Molding Box in South Salt Lake City, UT. He was then later hired as an Office Coordinator for the Center for Spiritual Living, “a spiritual philosophy that is loving, inclusive and accepting of all people.”
In late 2012, Matt began to develop his film company, Metamora Films. Acknowledging and taking full responsibility of his past mistakes, he knew that he wanted to take his very bad choices and attempt to make a difference in the community. With full sincerity about turning his life around, he began production on his first documentary film entitled, “What Makes Me Tic?”, a film about living with Tourette’s Syndrome. The film won several online awards and was picked up by an educational distributor.
The following year, taking inspiration from a script that he had wrote in prison, Matt directed, “Last Day With Lizzy”, a short film dedicated to his then estranged daughter, Maddie. The narrative which was shot in 12 hours in the Millcreek Canyon with local actors and crew, was an official selection of the Logan Film Festival and won additional online awards. The film was also featured at the Park City Showcase in late 2014.
Feeling like he had finally found his life’s calling, “The Forgiveness Journey”, a documentary on the process of forgiveness was released on February 25, 2015 at the Broadway Centre Cinemas to a crowd of over 125 people in downtown Salt Lake City. Owning up to his sex offense in the film, Matt talked about his own story and the loss of his relationship with his daughter due to his arrest and conviction. Stories of people who were also struggling with forgiveness were also featured, along with interviews from spiritual leaders, authors, and doctors. The 73-minute documentary is currently being distributed by Parallel Lines, an educational film distributor based in Los Angeles, CA.
In 2016, Matt recognized the immediate need for prison reform, awareness on post-prison issues, the effects of incarceration on families and children, and the ever growing sex offender registry in America. Solitary Nation, a podcast focusing on these important issues, is an interview style currently on it’s third season. With past interviews from marathon runner, Charlie Engle, Khalil A. Cumberbatch from Just Leadership USA, and national public speaker, Frank King, the podcast is an important media tool not only promoting change, but positive, post prison stories.
Matt’s most successful film project to date, NOT FOR RENT!, is a feature length documentary film about the the rental housing market. The film which was officially released on April 5, 2017 at Weber State University, is a feature length film highlighting individuals and families who are struggling in finding rental housing due to their prior felony convictions. In one particular case in the film, Tonia, who has a felony dating back almost 30 years, faces discrimination from several Northern Utah property managers. With over 95% of the American prison population being released at some point in the future, millions of ex-inmates struggle with ‘red tape’ and strict criminal history rental requirements property managers and landlords enforce. Matt states in his director’s statement,
“I urge you to watch this film. It’s a film that educates and inspires. It will open your eyes to a hidden form of rejection faced by millions of people in this country.”
The documentary film is doing very well with wins at national film festivals including Best Documentary at the Red Finch Festival, and a successful educational/conference circuit with various live screenings in Utah and Toronto, Canada (June, 2018).
From being nominated in 2017 for a Utah Film Award for his short documentary, Life Under The Horseshoe, to covering the Sundance Film Festivals in Park City, Utah, to national public speaking, and developing his own online Metamora Film Festival, Matt’s mission is to take a negative experience (his 2006 arrest), and to encourage others to look towards success even though they may face difficulty social stigma and rejection.
“The rejection and judgement can difficult”, Matt says. “I just ask people to try to get to know me first before making a judgment. We need to open up difficult conversations about ex-felons, sex offenders, employment and housing restrictions if we are going to ever going to reduce America’s prison population.”, Matt adds.
To this current day, Matt admits he still faces rejection from employers and landlords because of his felony record, now 12 years old. He’s also recognized that since his felony is classified as a sex offense, people automatically assume the worst, eventually denying him access to jobs and housing.
With challenges, hope and determination, Matt looks forward to new films and projects as the years progress. He currently lives in Vancouver, WA with his best friend and English Springer Spaniel, ‘Lucky.’
Updated: February 17, 2019
The Kraftwerk K9 Job Incident
Matt’s move to Washington state in April of 2017 proved to be a challenging one. With a job offer working in video production for Kraftwerk K9 in Rochester, WA, Matt looked forward to a change of pace in a more rural setting. Literally 12 hours after his federal probation expiry date, he packed all his belongings and his dog Lucky and headed to the Pacific Northwest. The position came with a temporary free house rental on the 20-acre German Shepard training facility. Just days after becoming the video production director, things quickly turned rotten. Matt was asked to fill out a background check which was never discussed 30 days prior during a two day, in-person interview (and acceptance of the position) with owner, Wayne Curry. Panicked and worried that he had nothing left to fall back on, Matt filled out the background check the best he could. He admits he only told the half-truth. The form had asked if he had ever been convicted of a felony…Matt checked “Yes.” The questions didn’t stop there:
“Have you ever been convicted of sex offense?”
Matt checked “No.” Three days later he was fired. Wayne Curry berated him, locked him off the property, denied Matt access to his personal belongings that were still inside the rental house, and scorned him in person and over the phone. The situation became so heated, Matt requested an escort from the Sheriff in order to remove his belongs from Curry’s property.
With only $500 in his pocket and frustrated beyond belief, Matt headed south to a Vancouver, WA hotel to decide what his next step would be. The only person he vaguely knew in Vancouver were Kayla Victor, and her mother, Carolyn Esparza, who he met a year prior at the InterNational Prisoner’s Family Conference. He called Carolyn and Kayla and explained to them what just happened. Wanting to learn more, Kayla and Carolyn invited Matt to lunch the following day.
Two days later after their lunch get together, Matt moved in to their large Vancouver house. He admitted that he didn’t want to intrude but Carolyn and Kayla insisted that Matt stay with them for awhile in order to get back on his feet. Matt was very thankful and appreciated their support.
Listen to Matt’s podcast interview with Carolyn Esparza about this horrific experience with Kraftwerk K9 and owner, Wayne Curry.
Digital Marketing and Weddings
Ten months later, after numerous employment and housing rejections, Matt was finally offered a place to live and a job with the digital marketing company, NetBiz. Without holding back any information on his felony and sex offender status, he gladly accepted the position in the digital marketing client services department. His position would later evolve into the companies primary video production specialist.
After about a year, Matt left NetBiz to pursue his fast growing wedding videography business. Pacific Hearts LLC, a company that Matt had developed back in Utah in 2015 as a part-time side business, never really took off until shortly after being hired at NetBiz. Applying his digital marketing skills that he learned, he re-designed his company’s website, worked to improve SEO, and reached out to other wedding vendors. His hard worked paid off. Pacific Hearts is now a successful, full-time and award winning (The Knot, WeddingWire) wedding videography company booking weddings in four states.
Matt admits that he was the closest to homelessness during the early transition from Utah to Washington. He’ll never forget the generosity that Kayla and Carolyn offered him that rainy, spring day after his wrongful firing from Kraftwerk K9. Because of their support, Matt now runs a successful business and is currently in the early production stages of a new documentary film. Matt continues his passion for Metamora Films and social justice filmmaking. He hopes that his new film project proposal involving the Washington State Department of Corrections and their Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Rearing inmate program, will become a reality in 2019.
Stay tuned for more updates…